Canadian handgun sales soar after Trudeau proposes freeze

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Ottawa (AFP) – Aman Sandhu checked store after store for a handgun in British Columbia in Canada, hoping to make a purchase before a sales freeze took effect, but struggled to find one in stock.

“I’m afraid if I don’t buy it now, I’ll never have a choice again,” Sandhu, a member of the Dawson Creek Sportsman’s Club, told AFP.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s proposed freeze on gun sales – which he announced following a series of high-profile mass shootings in the US – has some Canadians flocking to gun shops while they still can.

Although Sandhu wants to buy a gun, he’s also worried about getting bogged down in new rules that include heavy penalties for even minor infractions.

“Damn, if I make a mistake, I could waste the rest of my guns,” he said, describing a handful of long guns in his collection.

Several gun stores in the province of British Columbia saw lineups in the hours following the Liberal leader’s statement on Monday. Other stores across Canada said they sold out within days.

“Sales have been rapid,” said Jen Lavigne, co-owner of That Hunting Store in a mall on the outskirts of capital Ottawa, nestled between a hair salon, a Chinese buffet restaurant and a legislator’s constituency office. conservative.

‘We have sold 100 handguns, almost all of our stock, in the last three days since the Prime Minister announced the freeze,’ she said, pointing to her handgun cabinet almost empty.

‘Panic’

At DoubleTap Sports in Toronto, a similar scene unfolded. Owner Josko Kovic said the government announcement “created panic and people are now rushing to buy handguns.”

Salesman Chris Ruegg picks up a handgun from an almost empty display case at That Hunting Store in Ottawa, Canada Dave ChanAFP

“Almost all the stores are full, myself included,” he said.

According to government estimates, there are over one million handguns in Canada, which has a population of 38 million people. Some 2,500 stores sell pistols in the country.

Currently, a person must have a restricted firearms license to purchase a handgun. Most also require a special permit to transport them from any location to another, and they must be in secure crates.

Firing ranges are about the only places they can be legally fired.

The new regulations, unveiled after mass shootings killed 21 at a Texas elementary school and 10 at a New York state supermarket, would prohibit the purchase, sale, transfer and import of handguns.

They are expected to come into force in the fall, along with a border crackdown on arms smuggling from the United States.

“We are capping the number of handguns in this country,” Trudeau said Monday, citing “a level of gun violence in our communities that is unacceptable.”

‘Catch-22’

According to government data, nearly two-thirds of gun crimes in Canadian cities over the past decade involved handguns.

This Sig Sauer P320 9mm handgun is among the few still available for purchase at That Hunting Store in Ottawa, Canada, after an impending government freeze sparked a rush to buy.
This Sig Sauer P320 9mm handgun is among the few still available for purchase at That Hunting Store in Ottawa, Canada, after an impending government freeze sparked a rush to buy. Dave ChanAFP

At That Hunting Store, a man buying a new handgun for competition, who identified himself as David, lamented the new restrictions on top of already burdensome rules dragging purchases.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “It takes two months just to get a license with all the background checks.”

Gunsmiths interviewed by AFP unanimously decried the freeze, which has yet to be voted on by parliament.

“This will only hurt legal gun owners,” Lavigne said, adding, “It won’t reduce any crime because the bad guys don’t play by the rules.”

Darryl Tomlinson, owner of Canadian Gun Guys in Winnipeg, expressed concern for the future of his store and shooting range, as well as the members’ social network.

“This handgun measure is going to take away livelihoods and break up communities,” he said.

“It’s a catch-22. We’re busy now, but I’m afraid we’ll be out of business in the fall,” Tomlinson said of the week’s sales boom.

Sallie R. Loera